Talking to your teen about the dangers of drinking may be something you’re dreading—but you can’t afford to put it off any longer: 5,000 teenagers die every year from alcohol-related deaths, a sobering statistic that should motivate you to start today. We’re here to help: See what the experts say you should do when you have this important conversation.
Though it may be tempting to launch into a lecture about the dangers of underage drinking, experts recommend that you don’t. Make it part your regular positive interactions with your teen—here’s what kids consider quality time. In order to connect with your teen and make an impact, it’s better to talk as you usually would, but don’t talk around the issue. Maria Ulmer, a licensed marriage and family therapist and chief operating officer at Summit Behavioral Health, advises parents to talk about alcohol the way they would about any normal topic. Ulmer explains,”Parents should work towards open and direct communication with their children regarding use of alcohol. The NIAAA, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, recommends taking on a tone that is comfortable for parents and is a typical style in which you address everyday issues. Talking about the risks and dangers of alcohol use is important for children to hear from their parents—they look to their parents for guidance, and trust their position on hot topics like drinking.” Barbara Greenberg, PhD, a clinical psychologist specializing in parenting and teens, as well as co-author of Teenage as a Second Language, tells Reader’s Digest, “When you make rules for your kids your really need to get them on board—it has to make sense to them, and they need to buy into it. You need to be informative, and set limits. Tell them about the risks and consequences involved.” She adds, “Let them know that you worry and you’re not making random rules. Tell them you’re concerned it might get out of hand with no time to reverse things, as it often happens when drinking is involved.”